On Wednesday, November 9, MEP Leonidas Donskis, together with the Permanent Representations of Lithuania and Poland to the EU, organised the 100th birth anniversary event of Nobel Prize winner, poet and essayist Czeslaw Milosz in the European Parliament in Brussels.
The welcome speech of the event was delivered by President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek, after which Lithuanian and Polish intellectuals discussed the creative heritage of Cz. Milosz during the discussion "The native realm, or searching for the Europe of Czeslow Milosz". A documentary film directed by Vytautas Damaševičius and Juozas Matonis "The Vilnius of Czeslow Milosz" was also shown. Finally, the participants had a chance to view an exhibition made by Vytautas Magnus University. The exhibition was in three languages - Lithuanian, Polish, English, thus named "Sugrizimas/Powrot/Return," and was focused on the writer`s return to Lithuania after 52 years.
Honouring the event and commemorating the poet the EP President Jerzy Buzek described Czeslow Milosz as a man of two nations. "Czeslow Milosz’s ability to be sensitive to both - Polish and Lithuanian cultures - makes him a great European", said J. Buzek.
"It is difficult to find a person, whom such epithets as ‘world citizen’ and ‘true European’ would fit better", said Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the European Union, Ambassador Raimundas Karoblis. A welcome speech was also given by Permanent Representative of Poland to the European Union, Ambassador Jan Tombinski.
Opening the discussion, which was also attended by Professor at Cracow University Andrzej Romanowski, Professor at Vytautas Magnus University Egidijus Aleksandravicius and Member of the European Parliament Boguslaw Sonik, the host of the event Leonidas Donskis said that Czeslow Milosz responds to most of today`s European dilemmas by his works and life. "Cz. Milosz did not believe in the existence of good or bad countries. Europe for him, first of all, was a jointly created sensitivity", said L. Donskis. "Cz.Milosz does not fully belong to Lithuania or Poland. He is a Polish-speaking Lithuanian attributing himself to the Republic of the two nations, historic patriot of LDK [Lithuanian Grand Duchy] and, as he considered himself - the last citizen of LDK. He was a model of European self-awareness."
Panel speakers from Poland did not stress Cz. Milosz’s ability not to narrow his origin and works to Lithuania or Poland, but rather his openness to different cultures, ability to live and work in any parts of the world, such as France and the USA. Professor and historian Egidijus Aleksandravicius called the Cz. Milosz phenomenon a big test for both Lithuania and Poland, raising inconvenient questions about how we recognise what is actually Lithuanian or Polish. The Professor also reminded that Cz. Milosz was very critical of any - Lithuanian or Polish - ethnocentrism.
Cz. Milosz is a poet, writer, essayist, interpreter, Nobel Prize winner in 1980 and many other prestigious literary awards winner. His works are translated into more than 40 languages. The writer was granted Honorary Doctor of USA, Polish and Lithuanian Universities, as well as Honorary Citizen of Lithuania and Cracow.
Czesław Miłosz was born on June 30, 1911 in the village of Seteniai, Lithuanian. Spending his childhood and youth in Vilnius the German occupation writer lived in Warsaw. After the war he worked in the Polish diplomatic service in USA and France, where he asked for asylum. In 1960 he moved to California and worked as a Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures in Berkeley University for twenty years. Since 1989 he lived in Berkeley and Cracow. Cz. Milosz died on August 14, 2004 in Cracow, Poland, where he was buried.
This birth anniversary is included among the dates celebrated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Lithuanian and Polish Parliaments declared 2011 as the year of Czeslow Milosz.